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City of LA’s Trade, Travel, Tourism Committee approves motion to end “modern day sharecropping”

PRESS RELEASE FOR: Tuesday, November 28, 2017

PRESS CONTACT: Barb Maynard

After hearing testimony from exploited workers at LA’S Port, City of LA’s Trade, Travel, and Tourism Committee approves motion to explore solutions to end “modern day sharecropping” at Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles, CA – After 15 strikes, more than 1,000 claims for wage theft, numerous lawsuits, a national exposé unequivocally validating port workers’ demands for justice, and a global backlash to the abuse of Amazon warehouse workers and drivers in light of the announcement that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos now has the “single largest personal fortune on the planet,” misclassified port truck drivers and warehouse workers experiencing wage theft, racism, and discrimination on Port of LA property provided emotional testimony to the City of LA’s Trade, Travel, and Tourism Committee. After hearing the pleas of the workers and community supporters, the Committee unanimously adopted the motion, which now moves to the full City Council for a vote. A vote is anticipated in approximately two weeks.

“It is not acceptable for companies to be profiting off people who are being exploited on public property. We are going to do everything we can to help,” said Council Member Joe Buscaino.

“I remain haunted by the first gentleman who spoke tonight. The stories we’ve heard are moving and appalling and disgusting. This is modern day sharecropping,” said Council Member Mike Bonin. “It is incumbent on us to do whatever we can to try to fix this.”

Click here to watch a full video of the hearing.

Background

On October 13, 2017, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Joe Buscaino (CD15) and Bob Blumefield (CD3) publicly recognized that “all workers that contribute to the operations at the Port of Los Angeles be afforded a safe work environment, fair wages, and guaranteed rights and benefits,” specifically introducing legislation to:

  • “Review the conditions of leases of any trucking or warehousing companies operating on port property;
  • “Report on the feasibility of denying access to companies that are in violation of local, state, and federal laws, including labor and employment laws; and developing alternative solutions than can be implemented to enhance the employee rights of Port truck drivers and ensure that trucking companies comply with labor and employment laws;” and
  • Direct the Bureau of Contract Administration “to investigate and report back on wage theft claims due to minimum wage and paid sick day violations by trucking companies operating on Port property.”

The motion was referred to the City’s Trade, Travel, and Tourism Committee, as well as the Economic Development Committee. On Tuesday evening, November 28, 2017, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Bob Blumenfeld convened a Special Meeting of the Trade, Travel, and Tourism Committee to hear firsthand accounts of the systematic exploitation of the port drivers and warehouse workers who handle cargo from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The abusive working conditions at the Ports of LA and Long Beach have drawn considerable attention across the county. Unfair employment practices were exposed in USA Today’s “Rigged” investigative series. More recently USA Today uncovered how Federal agencies “helped fuel labor abuse” by contracting with companies guilty of labor infractions. In Congress, legislation has been introduced targeting working conditions at Ports, and US Senator Bernie Sanders has called on President Trump to sign an Executive Order ending exploitation of port truck drivers.

Amazon workers in the U.S. and around the globe are pushing back against a system that is rigged to make Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos the first $100 Billionaire in the world.

  • Recent reports show that Amazon’s “last mile” drivers are among the most exploited. “Near the very bottom of Amazon’s complicated machinery is a nearly invisible workforce over two years in the making tasked with getting those orders to your doorstep. It’s a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws. That program is called Amazon Flex, and it accomplishes Amazon’s “last-mile” deliveries—the final journey from a local facility to the customer.”
  • On Black Friday, thousands of Amazon workers in Germany and Italy went on strike to protest low wages.
  • In England, the “brutal” working conditions of Amazon workers have been exposed. The Mirror reports: “Alan Selby went undercover at the firm’s Tilbury warehouse in Essex where ambulances are regularly called and where workers face the sack if they fail to pack at least two items per minute.”
  • In Minnesota, Amazon subcontracted workers are rising up to demand an end to wage theft.

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